NASA selects four finalists for next Discovery mission

James Marshall
February 16, 2020

Two of the scientific teams have their sights set on Venus, one is focused on Jupiter's highly volcanic moon Io, and the last is targeting Triton, a moon of Neptune. NASA will choose up to two of the missions for improvement in 2021.

NASA has selected four proposed missions, spread out across the solar system, for further review in its hunt for the next big planetary science missions. "Researching any one of those celestial bodies can help unlock the secrets of the way that it, and many others like it, was from the cosmos".

The four investigations were selected as part of NASA's Discovery Programme that invites scientists and engineers to assemble a team to design exciting planetary science missions that deepen what we know about the solar system and our place in it. NASA's Voyager 2 mission showed that Triton has active resurfacing-generating the second youngest surface in the solar system-with the potential for erupting plumes and an atmosphere.

VERITASThe VERITAS Venus orbiter mission.

In the DAVINCI + mission, the atmosphere of the planet will be analyzed to see if Venus has an ocean before. This will advance understanding of the formation of terrestrial planets.

In the Io Volcano Observer mission, work will be conducted on Jupiter's satellite Io to learn how the tidal forces shape the planets. DAVINCI+ has Jim Garvin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center as its principal investigator.

The VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy) mission will be mapping the surface of Venus from the orbit in order to figure out more about the planet's geologic history and to conclude if volcanoes and plate tectonics from the planet are active in the present.

The principal investigator of the IVO mission would be Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona in Tucson, but it would run out of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. TRIDENT, on the other hand, aims to explore Triton to understand how habitable worlds may develop at tremendous distances from the Sun. The flyby mission would map the moon's surface, and would look for clues as to whether the moon really has a predicted subsurface ocean. It would also track infrared emissions so that NASA can get a better idea of Venus' geology.

These four proposed missions were chosen from submissions made in 2019. More precisely, NASA dubbed these future explorations as "Discovery missions".

13 it selected four finalists in the next round of the Discovery program from an unspecified number of proposals submitted last summer. The Discovery Program was started by NASA to allow scientists to explore and pitch focused projects that can be implemented at low costs.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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